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Street theaters avoid ‘death’ and live a new wave in São Paulo; get to know them

By Lia Hama

On a Sunday afternoon, couples and groups of friends have drinks, eat sandwiches, and chat at tables overlooking the Praça da República in downtown São Paulo.

There, the menu’s QR Codes arrive on VHS tape boxes, and the drinks are baptized with names from movies and series, such as “Casablanca” and “Sex and the City.”

The Cine LT3, located in Perdizes, has 35 seats (Photo)

Ten minutes before the movie session starts, most people get up and head to the darkroom in the establishment’s basement.

This is the Cortina Film Society, a former parking lot transformed into a cinema, restaurant, bar, concert hall, and party space.

Inaugurated last July, the Cortina Film Society was born to be a multi-use space with other sources of income besides the cinema box office.

Cortina Film Society, founded in 2022 (Photo internet reproduction)

“We studied this market a lot, and we know that ticket sales will not give the business a financial return; the other fronts bring in revenue.”

“But we are movie buffs, and we wanted to have the cinema as the central axis of Cortina,” says Marcelo Sarti, one of the three partners in the establishment

There, the public sits on lounge chairs spread out in front of the digital screen and watches feature films that competed in this year’s Oscars, such as ‘The Whale’ and ‘Aftersun’, or films that marked an era, such as ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Goodfellas’.

How about a movie on a sun lounger? (Photo internet reproduction)


They have in common that they are far from the commercial circuit of shopping malls, attracting a more alternative audience.

This is the case of photography director Pedro Maciel, 22.

Before moving to Vila Madalena, in the western zone of São Paulo, Maciel lived a few blocks from the movie club.

The Cortina Film Society’s facade (Photo internet reproduction)

“Now I live in another neighborhood, but I still go there because I enjoy the curatorship, especially of old movies.”

“There, I was able to review some of my favorite films, such as the trilogy ‘Before Sunrise’, ‘Before Sunset’, and ‘Before Midnight’, by Richard Linklater”, he says.

When the movie session ends, the 80 chairs are removed, and the space is transformed into a concert and party venue for up to 500 people.

The musical program is eclectic, ranging from alternative rock to rap, Brazilian to Latin music, and funk to R&B and soul.

The space is also used for other events, such as concerts (Photo internet reproduction)

“We’ve had shows from veteran artists, like Arnaldo Antunes, to new talents, like sisters Tasha & Tracie. The public from 25 and up varies according to the day’s attractions,” explains Sarti.


A space of artistic resistance during the military dictatorship, the Cine Bijou was another space that opened its doors in 2022.

The old movie theater functioned from 1962 to 1996 at Roosevelt square in Consolação and was reopened last January under the name Cine Satyros Bijou – Sala Patricia Pillar.

Patricia Pillar at the inauguration of the theater that bears her name (Photo internet reproduction)

With 77 seats, the movie club had its red armchairs restored, as well as the walls and ceiling designed in plaster.

The programming is mainly oriented to the exhibition of national feature films.

These art films are unlikely to be shown in commercial circuits Ivam Cabral, actor, playwright, and director of the space.

Cine Satyros Bijou – Patricia Pillar Room (Photo internet reproduction)

Actress Patricia Pillar, playwrights Walcyr Carrasco and Maria Adelaide Amaral, and artist Maria Bonomi are among those who participated in a “vaquinha” (collection of donations) to help pay the costs of rent, renovation, and purchase of equipment for the room, which is also used for theater and music performances.

With free tickets or at popular prices from R$5 to R$20, the space is frequented mainly by film students and residents around Roosevelt Square’s buildings.

According to Cabral, one of the differentials of Cine Bijou are the special sessions, which have the public chatting with directors, screenwriters, and actors who participated in the films shown.

Satyros Bijou (Photo internet reproduction)

“In the celebration of the 50th anniversary of ‘O Pagador de Promessas’, for example, we held a screening with the presence of actor Antonio Pitanga, who played in the feature film,” says Cabral.

“Our idea is to serve as a forum for debate, a space for people who don’t know each other but have common interests and aspirations,” adds the playwright.


In Perdizes, on the city’s west side, Cine LT3, a theater with only 35 seats, attracts residents for sessions from Thursday to Sunday at 4 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm.

With a retro look, the red leather armchairs were brought from a deactivated movie theater in Franca, in the interior of São Paulo.

“We propose to rescue the old neighborhood cinema, where you can meet your neighbors and watch a good movie,” says Carlos Costa, owner

The public chats outside Cine LT3 (Photo internet reproduction)

The theater opened in August of last year, where one of the studios of the audiovisual production company LT3 used to be.

The producer and his wife, Diane, a dentist, are responsible for selling the tickets, making the popcorn, and serving the drinks.

The couple organizes special screenings with wine, cheese, or pizza tastings to attract the public.

Cortina Film Club tasting (Photo internet reproduction)

“People have gotten used to watching movies on streaming, a habit that has become more pronounced with the pandemic. To convince them to go to the cinema, you must offer something more,” Costa explains.

The tickets are cheaper than those at the big movie theaters: they cost R$20 for the total price.

When buying a package with ten tickets, each ticket costs R$10.

Frequenter of the place, lawyer Izabela Borges Silva, 34, lives in the neighborhood and goes to LT3 on foot.

“I like the intimate feel of the place: the service is personalized, and the owners don’t mind if you bring a bottle of wine to drink with friends.”

“It has become a great weekend program.”

In Costa’s opinion, street theaters will continue to exist even with the competition from streaming services because they offer experiences that cannot be reproduced on the couch at home.

“You won’t hear ringtones; your cell phone has to stay silent. You get rid of the distractions of the outside world and know that you won’t be able to stop the movie to watch it later, so you immerse yourself in the story.”

“In the dark room, you forget about your life for a few hours and live the life of the characters. This is the magic of cinema, which will continue to enchant people”, he summarizes.


Cineclub Cortina – Rua Araújo, 62, República, SP. (@cineclubecortina)

Cine Satyros Bijou – Praça Franklin Roosevelt, 172, Consolação, SP. (@satyrosbijou)

Cine LT3 – Rua Apinagés, 135, Perdizes, SP. (@cine_lt3)

With information from UOL

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